Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood talks about how fast, affordable broadband access is coming soon to the north end of Thurman, which has to date either relied on dialup — or satellite transmissions, which have been expensive and unreliable with slow upload speeds.
High-speed Internet access for Thurman residents is moving forward this week, as bids to construct the first phase of a “white space” broadband transmission network are expected to be submitted to the town by a bid deadline of Friday Sept. 13.
Thurman Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood said this week that the bids will likely be opened at Thurman’s next town board meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 17 — and the project could be awarded at that time.
She said that the construction of the first phase of the local broadband network could be completed this fall.
This initial broadband extension project is expected to bring affordable high-speed Internet connection to 89 households in the north end of town on Valley Road, South Johnsburg Road, Mountain Road, as well as Barton Road, Don Potter Road, Combs Road and portions of South Garnet Lake Road.
Wood said that three communications companies — one each from Texas, Chestertown and the Capital Region — have expressed interest in submitting a bid to construct the system.
The broadband initiative, to be accomplished through a public-private partnership, has received national attention because it is a pilot project for a very promising technology that is expected to change a lot of lives in rural areas of our nation. The broadband technology is envisioned as an innovative, cost-effective solution to extending broadband into hilly, remote rural areas.
This Thurman white-space project, spearheaded by Evelyn Wood at the initial suggestion of Ava Ashendorff of Chestertown, has been described on National Public Radio, written up in the Senate Rural Resources magazine, and described on PBS television.
Supervisor Wood, who applied for and obtained a $200,000 state grant for the project, was interviewed this Spring for the Capitol Press Room radio show, which is broadcast statewide.
White space transmission refers to broadcasting data signals over the frequencies of electromagnetic spectrum existing between vintage television channels. Unlike cell-phone and wi-fi frequencies, white space transmission travels good distances in rural, wooded and hilly areas.
Fred Engelmann of Rainmaker Network Services in Chestertown is one of the bidders. He had provided the town with “buildout” plans after analyzing data from the transmission tests that were conducted this spring and yielded very favorable results, showing fast and reliable data connections. The bid specifications were based on the buildout plans which detail the equipment and its required placement in order to deliver Internet wirelessly to the 89 homes.
This effort is the first phase of a project to bring broadcast Internet service to virtually all households in the town of 1,200 people.
To date, most all of Thurman — like many other Adirondack towns — has no broadband service except for satellite, which can be unreliable and expensive, with slow upload speeds.
But by December, it is expected that the white-space transmitters will be providing the 89 Thurman households with reasonably priced, reliable high-speed Internet access.
Wood said that a portion of the $200,000 grant would likely be bankrolling about half the cost of reception equipment to be installed at the households, bringing the cost for the receivers down from about $600 to $280 or so. The monthly access charge is expected to be about $45.
The “white space” broadband service, unlike satellite and other technologies, would have no data cap and it wouldn’t throttle back transmission speed when a particular data threshold was reached.
Tentative plans for Phase Two call for the service to be extended to Dippikill and Glen-Athol roads.
Besides Rainmaker Network Services, the companies expressing interest in the network construction so far, Wood said, have been Schupps Line Construction of Albany and CDC News Construction Data of Austin, Texas.